Monday, March 5, 2012

The Dos and Don't of BattleCorps Writing -- The Dos

Someone on the Battletech forum complained that they weren't getting paid to write Battletech fiction. I pointed them to the Battlecorps website. And yes, Battlecorps writers do get paid -- not enough to live on, but it does make a nice second job income.

However, the difference between fanfiction and pro writing (You get paid to write, therefore, its pro writing) is vast. In fanfiction, you can do anything. You can create super characters and have them run amuck through the Inner Sphere and beyond. You can have crossovers with other series (I have seen a BOLO crossover and a Battlestar Galatica [NS] crossovers) You can rewrite the Inner Sphere's history. Whatevery your imagination can think of, you can create in fanfiction.

But make no mistake, writing for Battlecorps is very diffrent and very difficult. Your imagination has to be reeled in and confined in a much smaller area than with fanfiction. So, what follows is a list of Dos and Don'ts to give you the best shot at getting published. Today it's the Do list, while the Don'ts will be in the next blog post.


Read the Submission Guidelines
-- The guidelines are at ( Reading them will save you a lot of trouble in the furure.

Know the Battletech Style -- Battletech stories have a certain style. For examples, all 'Mechs names are italized. (Identified as such by underlying the word in the manuscript.) The term 'Mech uses a closing ', and the M is always capitalized. Used the guidelines at ( to guide you.

Know the Battletech Universe -- A good percentage of Battlecorps submitted stories that Get past Jason get shot down in in the Continuity check. The people that goes over these stories have the knowledge of the universe and access to everything from the 100+ sourcebooks and other products that have been put out over the last twenty-five years. If the story has Battletech Universe "factual" flaws, they will find them and note them. And if the flaws are too big, it will crash the story. Research is the order of the day.

Keep the Stories Small (Word Count) -- This point and the next one are connected, but I will lay them out seperately. The first story I sold to Battlecorps "The Lance Killer," came in at 6,600 words, and was the largest one of the first half dozen stories Jason accepted. My later stories are a little longer, but only one has been longer than 10,000 words. ("The Blood of Man," which came in at 11,700 words, but we were given a special limit, as it was part of an anthology centered around the Jihad: Terra sourcebook release.) The best thing to do is keep the first few stories between 5000-7000 words. Once you have a track record, you can make the stories a little longer, but I always make sure my stories are less than 10,000 words.

Keep the Stories Small (Content) -- With only 5,000 - 7,000 words to tell a story, there's little room for complex plots, large numbers of characters, or events that have a major impact on the Battletech universe (Besides, major impact events are in the hands of a very small select group of writers, of which I am not one). So, the stories should have something like:

* Number of characters: A main character, two or three major supporting characters and the same number of minor supporting characters. For example, "The Lance Killer" had six characters with lines, two of which only appeared in the first scene. "Negotiation" had only seven characters that had a speaking part. Focus on a small group of characters.

* Limit POVs: Point of View is what the writer uses to frame their story with. I use a third person, limited POV when I write Battlecorps stories. I take a character, and follow the story as they see it. In "Hero's Bridge," I use two POV; one following the Federated Suns' side through the eyes of a young reporter, while the Confederation's side is seen through the eyes of a veteran CCAF NCO.

* Simpler plots: Because of the number of characters and limited words, there is no place for any grand star-spanning plots. Make the plot personal to the characters involved.
Proofread your work -- Or better yet, get someone else to do it. Jason doesn't have the time with all his other work to do it, and there are no Battlecorps proofreaders. It is up to the author to make sure that everything is spelled right, that commas and periods are in place and grammer is correct. Get two or three writers together and read each others work.

Continue writing  -- You complete a story, proofread it, and send it in. Great. Now, start working on the next story. Jason is not only looking for good stories, he's looking for authors with more than one story in them.

I'll post the Don't list later on in the week...


No comments:

Post a Comment